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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  July 31, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> thanks for joining us. we hope to see you back at 6 clk. on our broadcast tonight, under fire. after a spike in wrongdoing by tsa agents caught sleeping on the job, stealing from passengers, and letting bags and people slip by checkpoints. banned for life. that's what alex rodriguez is facing according to a league report from the world of baseball as talks continue to cut a deal and with a crackdown on cheaters under way. the traffic jam at one of the most beautiful spots in the country. are we loving our national parks to death? and what summer visitors to yosemite may discover when they arrive. and must see tv, the new network about to go national, aimed at a specific niche audience. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. they are the men and women in blue. it is an unmistakable bright blue, and frequent fliers know them instantly as the people standing between us passengers and actually boarding an airplane. there was no tsa before 9/11 and they have grown big and powerful in just the years since. most of the time they do their work without incident, but tonight there is new trouble. it is a government report out about wrongdoing in the tsa for failing to discipline airport screeners who break the rules, and that ranges from sleeping on the job to letting friends and baggage through, to stealing from passengers. it is where we begin tonight with our justice correspondent pete williams. he's at washington national. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. the number two official of the tsa acknowledged today that it has its share of what he calls knuckle heads. the issues, are they disciplined consistently and do the worst offenders get the harshest punishment? example, says the government accountability office, an airport screener caught on
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surveillance video, running carry-ons through a metal detector without stopping to review each image, suspended 30 days. at another airport, a screener walks away to help a family member at the ticket counter, then takes the family carry-on and bypasses screening, suspended 7 days. and the gao told congress today that half the screeners who fall asleep on the job receive less than even a minimum level of discipline called for by tsa's own policies. >> rather than punishing the employees using standard penalties, tsa chose to go easy on those who find it hard to stay awake while protecting the american people. >> reporter: the report says misconduct cases at tsa went up 27% over the past three years, about 9,600 in all, most for failing to show up as scheduled, violating security rules, or sleeping on duty. >> of the 9,600 cases, about half resulted in letters of reprimand, 31% resulted in suspensions, and 17% resulted in the employee's removal from tsa.
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>> reporter: tsa insists it is tough on the worst offenders, firing 380 employees over the past decade for theft, for example. including a screener at the orlando airport, who admitted stealing four laptop computers from passenger baggage. >> if we can prove an individual is stealing, if we can prove that an individual is taking drugs, if we can prove that an individual is intentionally subjugating the security system and we can prove it immediately they're out the door. >> reporter: but says the tsa, without definitive proof, employees get letters of reprimand while complaints are investigated. still, the agency says in a workforce of more than 56,000, most of them professional, bad things are bound to happen. >> we're going to have people that sometimes do stupid things. >> reporter: still, the report says tsa could keep better tabs on employee discipline to make sure the punishment fits the offense, and to make sure its uniform throughout the 450
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airports where tsa screeners work. brian? >> pete williams surrounded by happy passengers in washington, d.c. tonight. pete, thanks. we're learning more, a good deal more about the government's massive surveillance program that involves phone calls and e-mails. today, in public, in congress, we learn more about what's been going on in private for years. nbc's kelly o'donnell covering things on capitol hill for us tonight. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. tonight the guardian published more classified information, claiming the nsa can read content of e-mail and online chats without court approval. the intelligence community is firing back saying the program known as x keystone is only use ed against foreign terror suspects and the nsa is doing its own disclosures. today, a brief new look inside the secrets of the nsa. the director of national intelligence released several documents to show fisa court oversight of the spy program that sweeps up americans' phone record data. and the government acknowledged
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using a wider net than previously known in what is called hop analysis. the nsa tracks a call made by a terror suspect, but can then track all the records linked to anyone the first suspect calls. and on to anyone each of those callers contact, and so on. senator dick durbin was clearly uneasy. >> when you look at the reach of this program, and it envelops a substantial number of americans. >> reporter: frustration today between senators and the intelligence community, starting with how nsa leaker edward snowden was ever granted access to the country's most guarded spy programs. senator patrick leahy dismayed that no heads have rolled at the nsa. >> for a 29-year-old school dropout to come in and take out massive, massive amounts of data, it is obvious that there weren't adequate controls. has anybody been fired? >> no, sir, not yet.
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>> has anybody been admonished? >> sir, those investigations are under way. >> reporter: many senators believe the programs are necessary for national security, and say more is needed to ensure they're conducted legally. >> i don't want the public to take our word for it. i think there is a balance here. >> reporter: the pushback goes beyond congress. today, the conference in las vegas, a heckler shouted at nsa director general alexander. >> if you disagree with what we're doing, then you should help twice as much. >> read the constitution! >> i have. you should too. >> reporter: and tomorrow at least a half dozen members of congress are headed to the white house, invited by the president to talk about the issues as congress considers adjustments to these programs, but would keep them in operation. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on the hill for us tonight. kelly, thanks. for his part, the president went up to the hill today for what amounted to a public pep talk with members of his party, though the doors were closed. he met with his fellow democrats
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in the house and senate. and told them they were, quote, on the right side of history, on health care reform and immigration reform. house leader pelosi presented the president with a cake in advance of his 52nd birthday, coming on this sunday. if you follow baseball, you know there is a new crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs and the players who have used them. if you have kids, you know a lot of former role models have fallen. there are reports tonight that yankees $100 million man, alex rodriguez, a-rod, is facing an enormous penalty while trying all the while to cut a deal. we get our report tonight from nbc's ron mott. >> reporter: tonight, nbc sports reports major league baseball will move to ban alex rodriguez for life if he doesn't reach an agreement on a less severe penalty, this from a source familiar with the investigation into a now-closed florida clinic that allegedly gave players performance-enhancing drugs.
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it is news that armed the embattled yankees third baseman another "sports illustrated" cover. >> we're looking at the end of one of most astonishing talents the game has ever seen, a-rod was supposed to be the guy who was going to put the clean face back on baseball history. >> reporter: on the field, a .300 hitter, hall of fame power and superstar looks. off the diamond, reports of marital infidelity, magazine spreads knocked for being self-centered, and then there is the money, that record $275 million deal to don the famed pinstripes. but he has been under a dark cloud ever since his admission four years ago about using steroids when he played for the texas rangers, this after a series of strong public denials. >> have you ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance? >> no. >> reporter: the new york daily news reports that baseball's investigation has turned up e-mails, text messages and other information showing rodriguez recruited athletes for the
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clinic and tried buying incriminating evidence. while he's not commenting on his latest troubles, rodriguez tells "si" he still wants to be a role model. >> everything he's done he did to himself. every public relations decision he made, he made himself. he has put himself into this situation. everybody is closing in on him. i don't know if he can get out of this this time. >> reporter: the 38-year-old hit 647 home runs in 19 seasons, fifth all time. now facing possible banishment from the game that made him. now, as for timing, nbc sports reports that an announcement not just about a-rod, but other players snared in this investigation, could come down as soon as this friday, brian. >> ron mott with us in the studio. ron, thanks as always. today and all this week we have been following what just might be a battle for the heart and soul of the republican party. and while the debate is going on right now, a lot of folks believe it is important for what it means when the republicans have to choose a candidate in the next election. and the party gets to decide what it stands for. nbc's andrea mitchell has been
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watching it all for us. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. it is a great debate in the republican party and a preview of the likely 2016 campaign. this time it involves big personalities and big issues. >> senator rand paul. >> reporter: in one corner, kentucky senator rand paul, a tea party conservative, libertarian to the core. in the other, chris christie, all jersey, now blasting isolationist republicans like rand paul and texas senator ted cruz. >> i want them to come to new jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. and they won't. because that's a much tougher conversation to have. >> reporter: paul fired back this week, and they were off to the races. >> and it is really, i think, kind of sad and cheap that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, oh, i'm the only one who cares about these victims. hog wash. >> maybe he should start look at cutting the pork barrel spending he brings home to kentucky,
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because most washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get re-elected. >> this is the king of bacon talking about bacon. governor christie and others have been part of this gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme all this money. >> reporter: it is a replay of republican debates from the last century. the isolationist senators who opposed getting into world war ii before pearl harbor, it played out on the senate floor again today as rand paul fought a losing battle against john mccain to block foreign aid. >> what will they say about the bridges in northern kentucky that won't be built because we're sending the money to countries that are burning our flag. >> the debate has gone on for the heart and soul of the republican party. >> reporter: paul told nbc news tonight he lost in the senate today, but will win with the american people. >> i think we may get voters who are like reagan democrats, blue collar democrats, who say that's a guy i can vote for because that's somebody who really is talking about how we help people in america. >> both senator paul and
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governor christie are going to be major candidates in 2016. they're heavyweight contenders for the republican nomination. >> reporter: and there is this, in the latest issue of the new republic magazine, mccain was asked whether he would vote for hillary clinton or rand paul in 2016. mccain replied, laughingly, it is going to be a tough choice. another sign of just how bitter this growing feud is among republicans, brian. >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom, who, by the way, today, celebrated 35 years of service to this network and reporting on this network. and let's go ahead and kill her mike as i say we hope she's up for 35 more. andrea, thank you, congratulations. >> thanks, brian. conditions overseas tonight setting up for what could be -- what is feared to be a particularly violent episode in egypt. police have been ordered to break up the camps that have been formed by the supporters of muhammad morsi, the ousted president there. the interior minister said he hopes the protesters will resort to reason as he put it, and
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leave voluntarily. spokesman for morsi's party, the muslim brotherhood, said the decision could pave the way for what he called another massacre there. now to what may be the best possible news for those of us hoping to get through a mild 2013 hurricane season along our already battered shoreline. a massive and sprawling dust storm in africa may suppress this year's hurricane season, at least for a while, over on this side of the atlantic. because weather patterns begin over there, and come west, and because the air mass is so big and so arid, forecasters are hoping this so-called saharan air layer will buy us some time. it already stretches from north africa to puerto rico, and there are no major storms in the pipeline. at least not yet. still ahead for us here tonight, trouble at one of the most beautiful spots on earth. millions of americans come to enjoy it every year, but that's the problem. so changes are coming to a
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stunning national treasure. and later, the new cable channel that isn't aimed at you as much as it is those who miss you so much when you're gone.
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back as promised with a controversial idea for one of this nation's great treasures and top destination every time of year and around this time of year, the national parks service wants to make yosemite a road less traveled, reducing congestion and closing some popular concessions and high traffic areas. nbc's harry smith went to yosemite to see how close we're really coming to loving a national park to death. >> reporter: if you're lucky, you'll get to spend some time in a national park this summer. maybe you'll make it to yosemite. ancient glaciers polish the great granite cliffs of yosemite into a powerful sight, none who see it ever forget it. yosemite is a place so incredible, congress approved the money to preserve and
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protect it during the thread bear years of the civil war. a half a century later, john mueller, the man who founded the sierra club, brought teddy roosevelt here, and convinced him to expand the park and turn it into a national park. they would be stunned to see that 4 million visitors come here every year, that's double the number from just 30 years ago. >> too many people here as it is. >> reporter: so the park service wants to reduce traffic congestion, because it's been designated a wild and scenic river, giving the 81 miles of the merced, which runs through the park, more space. that means doing away with or moving a number of the concessions, bike rental, horseback rides and rafting. they also plan to close two swimming pools. local congressman tom mcclintock thinks it is a bad idea. >> what they're saying is they're going to move the amenities from the area where people frequent and move them to areas where people don't go. thanks a lot. >> reporter: yosemite is caught
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between a rock and a hard place, if you will. here's the problem. the park is the size of the state of rhode island, but most people only use a tiny sliver of it, and that sliver feels an enormous impact. environmentalists like greg adair say the park needs to do much more. >> somehow we keep getting plans that walk around those issues and don't really face them squarely. >> reporter: how to preserve a place that means so much to so many people is no easy task. ranger scott gettiman worked in yosemite for 17 years. >> we want to make sure that the plan reflects what people want, because when it is all said and done, the national parks belong to the american people. >> reporter: after all, what's at stake is merely the fate of a priceless national treasure. harry smith, nbc news, yosemite. >> what a place. we're back in a moment with something that is disappearing so fast in so many homes, there is a national campaign to bring it back.
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there is a sad headline to report out of iraq tonight. july has now been the single deadliest month there since '08. the death toll for july of this year, just shy of 1,000. 989 people dead in terrorist attacks of one kind or another. they have reviewed cars and toasters and lawn mowers and a lot of americans turn to the folks at consumer reports before making any kind of purchase. but what about our health care and major surgery? we'll put a link to their report on our website for you tonight. but for the first time, the folks at the nonprofit consumer reports have released ratings on over 2,400 u.s. hospitals based on the quality of surgical care. several big name hospitals got lower ratings than you might expect. at least two of them, johns hopkins and the cleveland clinic, were already today questioning the methodology of the findings. the academy of motion
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picture arts and sciences, the folks behind the oscars, have made history within the organization by electing the first african-american president in their 86-year history. she is cheryl boone isaacs, the third woman to hold the job. her background is in big marketing for films like "forest gump," "austin powers" and "the king's speech." and because everything must change with the times, "the new york times" reported today the french are eating less french bread. this would be like philadelphians shunning the cheesesteak. the average french citizen ate an average of a baguette a day as recently as 1970. well, that number has fallen to half that lately. they have launched a pr campaign, not unlike the got milk campaign launched by the u.s. dairy farmers. their website proudly declares, quote, france is a civilization of bread. when we come back here tonight, talk about our fragmented media landscape, the newest tv channel online isn't
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even aimed at the humans watching at home.
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finally tonight, they say your dog doesn't know if you've been gone from the house for three hours or three days.
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the fact is, they just don't like it when you're gone from the house. that's where a new television channel comes in. despite their limited buying power, dogs are the intended audience here and they can begin watching starting tomorrow nationwide. our preview here tonight from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> there you go. >> reporter: get ready, rover, because tv is going to the dogs with a new channel designed just for you. dog tv is a 24-hour network set to be unleashed nationwide. >> when dogs are home alone, they're not very cool with it. they suffer from stress, anxiety, separation anxiety a lot of them. >> reporter: the goal, for you to be able to go to work and know sparky isn't home chewing up the furniture. all done with a series of short videos that exclusively cater to the canine attention span. going for a car ride, a romp in the park, even zillions of zebras. just what i needed, somebody
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else on the couch hogging the remote. keep your paws off it. at the escondido humane society in california, it's a real tail wagger with the four-legged demographic. >> they're much quieter, they're not barking as much, which in a shelter environment, that's wonderful for us. >> reporter: pets are a $55 billion industry in america, and with more than 78 million dogs, the potential audience is huge, and likely profitable. subscribers will pay $4.99 a month extra. but here at the canine fitness club in suburban chicago, some wonder if it's encouraging pooches to stay put. >> i think we have become a nation of couch potatoes and that's both our owners and our dogs. >> reporter: but soon every dog will have his day in front of the tv. >> they love to see other dogs on tv. they just can't get enough of that, right? >> reporter: and the ratings just might go through the ruff. kevin tibbles, nbc news,
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chicago. >> that is our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. good wednesday evening everyone. i'm janelle wang in for jessica aguirre. >> the south bay beseened by bats. an increase in the number of rabid bats. and they're being found near family friendly locations. in los gados this evening, with the details. >> reporter: raj, here at los gados creek trail. two rabid bats found in this area since april. bats are usually only active at night. if you find one during the day, watch out.
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less than two weeks ago, someone made a frightening discovery near los gados. a rabid bat. in april, another rabid bat discovered along the los gados creek trail. >> concerning there might be bats that have rabies out and about. >> a lot of familiar use the park a lot of children, use the park to commute through. >> reporter: so far this year, santa clara county reporting the most rabid bats in five years. five bats found since april. compared to three for all of last year, and two cases the year before. the sick bats aren't just hanging out under the trees. they've been found in high-tech headquarters may 16th a rabid bat discovered on the google campus. east bay, this month a 16-year-old volunteer at the oakland do was bitten by a rabid bat. infected animal was not one of the fruit bats on display at the